Medical Scribe

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Sep 21, 2015
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I have recently decided that I am going to scribe for the next year or two and I was wondering if any of you have done this before. If so I was wondering; what went well, what didn't, if the training prepared you once you started/what they could have done better to prepare you, was it difficult to learn how to use the EMR systems, and just any overall advice you can give me prior to starting. I want this to go well and I figure some of you may have experience with this already. Thanks!

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Hi! I have not been a scribe, but I do know that there are lots of threads about scribing on SDN and I bet you can find a lot of really helpful information on them (perhaps one reason why some people haven't responded yet, imo). Best of luck!
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I was at an interview recently. I started talking about my time as a medical scribe. First words out of the interviewers mouth (who happened to be the associate dean of admissions) were, "That's great experience."

Only advice is use a digital notepad to jot down all the random info that gets thrown at you when you can't keep up, then put it in its right place later when you aren't gagging on the smell of necrotic decubitus ulcer.
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Scribing is an amazing way to get insight into medical practice and develop some relevant skills.
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I was at an interview recently. I started talking about my time as a medical scribe. First words out of the interviewers mouth (who happened to be the associate dean of admissions) were, "That's great experience."

Only advice is use a digital notepad to jot down all the random info that gets thrown at you when you can't keep up, then put it in its right place later when you aren't gagging on the smell of necrotic decubitus ulcer.
My company had 8 scribes matriculate to med school last year. Two others went off to PA and two others to nursing (with clinical experience it will be much easier to land them a hospital gig first time around.
In my opinion scribing is what you make of it. If you want it to just be a job then so it shall, but if you are inquisitive and pay attention you will learn much more than you ever thought you would.

Personally, the experience has been invaluable for me, and it solidified my decision to pursue medicine.
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Honestly, every scribing experience is going to differ based on the site, working physicians, tempo, etc. As far as actually scribing, it's interesting until you reach the point when you've experienced the majority of presentations (most being dyspnea, MI, strokes, or general sickness) . At this point, it becomes a bit repetitive but at least it's reinforcing (remembering Troponin ranges, BNPs, what counts as critical care, TPA exclusions, etc.). Personally, I've learned a great amount about clinical skills I believe will be useful upon matriculation to a medical school. You truly see patients at their worst (suicidal, homicidal, domestic abuse) and observe the entire medical process. I'd recommend it as a great learning experience, but if money is an issue, there are probably better options out there. As far as difficulty, again, that's going to depend on the system you use and the extent of your training. Some companies have high turnover rates, training their scribes minimally and throwing them in the schedule firing those that don't find a way to learn on their own and keep up. Conversely, some companies train their scribes for 3 mos so day 1 you feel adequately prepared. Similar to what others have said, the experience is what you make of it. Do the work, and ask questions when appropriate (do NOT ask questions when the board is full, or when the physician is typing in the chart).
I scribe for a PCP and it's by far my most insightful experience of medicine as I apply to med school. From learning the different metrics of health, building relationships with patients as they come in for follow ups, medication names and history, view of healthcare from the perspective of primary care.. I highly recommend scribing if you dont mind the low pay rate. I'd also recommend scribing in a clinic rather than ER if you can (several companies have this option)... building relationships with patients is what keeps me going
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Thanks for info, I interview for an ortho scribe position tomorrow!
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Hey I scribe in the ER and the experience that I've gained is immeasurable. I think the biggest thing that I've gotten from my experience (other than the hard medicine) was why I really want to become a physician. I've see so many people that I'm able to form a very informed opinion on the state of healthcare as if pertains to everyday people and the impact that I want to make. I've also become intimately close with the human condition. My first time seeing death up close was during my first solo shift which was a cardiac arrest. Unforuntely, the patient didn't make it but I'll never forget her. I've laughed with patients, I've been annoyed with patients, I've felt tearful for patients. It's makes you feel human and puts the grand scheme of life into perspective. I'm slightly romanticizing the experience a bit but I do mean what I say and can speak truthfully to my time in the hospital.

Honestly, scribing is what you make it. I agree with @studentdocftw ; the actual job isn't hard at at all and after a while, it does become repetitive. Initally, there's a sharp learning curve but about 3-6 months in, you'll really feel like you can handle damn-near anything that's thrown at you. I know someone else has suggested scribing in a primary care setting but honestly, I would be bored as hell doing that. I love the ER because you see so many different cases, acute and chronic, and the culture of the ER is so upbeat. All in all, you stand to gain a lot in either setting, though.

Edit: Don't feed the nurses..or rather, do feed them..they get cranky at times...
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I was a scribe in the ED for a year. To echo what others have said, it's definitely great experience for medical school! If you're lucky, like I was, you might end up working with doctors who are actually excited and willing to take the time to teach you (during downtime, obviously). I worked with some awesome physicians who really became my mentors. Since all of the scribes in my program were planning to apply to some type of health professions school (MD/PA/NP), most of the docs were willing to share their med school experiences and to advise us. Even if you don't get a lot of direct teaching from the people you work with, you'll learn so much just be being in the ED and watching. Really, a lot of the job is to recognize patterns, learn by osmosis, and anticipate what the doctor might need before he/she does.

With that said, I definitely agree that it can get repetitive after a while. After your 100th STEMI, you're kind of like, okay, EKG, troponin, cath lab, GO! Hospitals also often tend to be very hierarchical and, as a scribe, you're basically the lowest rung of the ladder. This means you may not always be treated very well by doctors, nurses, etc. There were people I worked with for a year who made zero effort to learn my name and instead just barked orders at me. Thankfully, those people were in the minority. My best advice to you is to learn to read people well! Know when to stay out of the way. Make friends with the nurses, if you can. Try to do little things to make their lives easier and your life will be easier. It's also worth noting that in my program, scribes cover almost all ED shifts, including days, nights, overnights, weekends, and holidays...

All scribe programs are different. There were a lot of things that I loved about mine but unfortunately, it was ridiculously low-paying job. Depending on your finances, you may need to think about whether you can afford to work for as low as $10/hour (although some programs certainly pay more). But for myself, a nontrad several years out of college trying to support myself, working this job for a year was a serious struggle (with rent, student loans, car payment, etc). Personally, I think given how important and demanding this job can be, scribes deserve waaaaayyyy more than they usually make. The fact that it's a good experience doesn't change the fact that people need to be able to survive... and save money for med school! In any case, it was definitely a great learning experience and one that is usually looked upon highly by med schools.
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+Learn medicine through an emergency standpoint, from medications to procedures.
+See many clinical presentations (Heart attacks, stroke, lacerations, overdoses, fractured bones, etc)
+Possible LOR if you do a GREAT job
+Understands the physicians' thought process
+Ask the doctor anything--some will be happy to teach you and treat you like a medical student
+Improve your multitasking and memory skills (keeping track of +12 patients at any given time!)
+Not everyone can do it, be proud! Makes you look different in the applicant pool! Makes you competitive
+Some doctors are willing to help you
+I pre-diagnose the patients and have the physician over look them. Beware, some physicians prohibit this. Some will test your knowledge.
+Valuable experience for medical school because you SEEN it in person and knows bit of pieces of the process
+Learn patient-physician interactions
+Shows your commitment to medicine

-Physicians can be mean and jerks
-Time consuming
-Mentally fatigue by the end of my shifts
-Most days, you dont get a lunch break. I depended on gluconeogenesis. I'm fat, I can starve longer than my skinny counterparts.
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